Cong stages walkout from Punjab assembly

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Chandigarh, Sep 10 (UNI) The opposition, Congress today staged a walkout from the Punjab assembly protesting against the failure of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to give the House a concrete assurance on specific cases of ' official atrocities'.

The Congress members walked out during zero hour, unsatisfied with the assurances given by the Chief Minister on cases that were highlighted in the House by Leader of the Opposition, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

However the opposition members returned after 10 minutes when the House was taking up the Punjab Offical Language (Amendement) Bill to take part in the discussions on this Bill.

Earlier as soon as question hour ended and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Tikshan Sud had moved a motion to adjourn the House sine die, Mrs Bhattal got up to demand the extension of the session by another day or two as a number of important matters needed to be discussed. In this context she refered to the floods in certain districts of Punjab which had led to large scale destruction of crops.

However Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon struck down the demand of the Opposition Leader and asked her to spell out the issues she desired to highlight.

Mrs Bhattal refered to the alleged beating up of a pregnant woman in police custody in Faridkot district and the murder of a sarpanch candidate belonging to her party in Sangrur district yesterday. She also refered to the rejection of the nomination papers of her party candidates in the Municipal Committee elections in Muktsar, the home district of the chief minister.

A number of other Congress members also took the government to task for the 'undemocratic' manner in which elections to various Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) were conducted recently. Mrs Bhattal made references to the rejection of the nomination papers of her candidates at a number of places.

She also made references to the demolishen drive being undertaken in Bathinda which had left many poor families shelterless. Mrs Bhattal also made a reference to the lathi charge on Aaganwadi workers recently.

Refering to the incidents highlighted by Mrs Bhattal, the Chief Minister assured the House that he would inquire into the Faridkot and Sangrur incidents and the guilty would be dealt as per the law.

Regarding PRI elections, Mr Badal asked the Congress to approach the state Election Commission.

However his reply did not satisfy Mrs Bhattal and her party members and they staged a walkout.

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